Slow Down ~ by Author Marj Ivancic

Slow down.
Pay attention.


I can’t tell you how many times I heard those two phrases in my life. They were usually preceded by some knuckleheaded move on my part. You know the kind. Moving too fast, brain elsewhere. Adding bleach to the dark laundry; scuffing the wall paint with the chair leg; knocking a glass from the counter.

But this month, I had cause to think upon those words more deeply as I wrote my father’s eulogy.

My dad was a man of thought before action, which meant he wasn’t one to suffer mistakes gladly. Yet, what I think he was really saying when he levied those parental admonishments was, “have care” or “proceed with care.”


What is it to care for something or someone?

To protect. To take responsibility for. To look after.

Weighty stuff, eh? So, why apply it to “things” like possessions?

For my dad, it wasn’t about materialism. In his mind, to care for
something required having appreciation for it. And if you appreciate something, then gratitude surely follows. And a life of gratitude is a content one.

Slow down.
Pay attention.

If you learn to be grateful for the small things, like possessions, just imagine how grateful you will be for the really important stuff—your body, your mind, your loved ones, this planet, your fellow man.

Slow down.
Pay attention.

Be in the moment. They pass too quickly, these precious moments of our lives, big and small. Appreciate those breaths, those chances we are given which show themselves in the minutes and hours of time spent with our loved ones.

Slow down.
Pay attention.

What a wonderful life philosophy. What a wonderful lesson. What a wonderful man. I am forever indebted.

It's Never to Late to Follow Your Dreams ~ by Author Darlene Kuncytes

 

photo: Deposit Photos
On Valentine’s Day this year, I celebrated eight years since publishing my first book. 

Eight years!!! 

It still blows me away. 

I have always loved books and reading and writing. For as long as I can remember, I loved weaving tales. 

In my younger days, it was sitting under the street light in the summer telling ghost stories. Oh, how I loved that! I would make up monsters and stories and loved when I would actually scare my friends. (yes, I have an evil streak! Lol)

When I hit my teens, I would sit quietly in study hall – not studying of course, but writing stories. It was my true love.

My dream.

photo: Google photos
I never wanted to be a princess or a ballerina when I was a kid. Although, I did take dance classes that I enjoyed, but it just wasn’t my goal in life. Nope. This girl wanted to be the next Stephen King or John Saul! 

Then as I got even older, I began to write romance. 

I still love horror, but I am a sucker for that happy ending! (Thank you, LaVryle Spencer!)

I have written my entire life. There are tidbits of stories all over my house, but it wasn’t until I was in my forties that I was brave enough to actually take that step and make my dreams come true. 

I bit the bullet and published my very first novel. 

And it was like nothing I had ever experienced! I can’t even begin to tell you how exciting it was!

I published my first book knowing nothing, but I was lucky enough to find a core group of amazing people who helped me along my journey. And believe me, I needed it. I was scared spitless! Lol

I was terrified, and I told myself that my family and friends would most likely be the only ones who would be kind enough to actually pay for my book, but at least I was making my dream come true. I was a published author! 

I was forty-something and FINALLY doing what I'd wanted to do forever. And do you know what? I do not regret a thing! 

Well, that’s not entirely true. I do regret not taking the plunge sooner. 

And now, it’s eight years and fourteen books later, and the dream continues! 

You see…dreams are funny things. They start to flicker in us as children and linger in our hearts forever. Some of us follow them straight away, while others, for whatever reasons, won’t take that plunge. 

What I have discovered and want to stress is that is it NEVER too late. Don’t ever let fear or the bumps in the road keep you from what turns that flicker into a full-blown flame!

photo: Google photos

Because you know what? The only thing we will ever truly regret in life are the chances we didn’t take.

LIVE that dream. 

One of my best friends decided she wanted to follow her dreams of becoming a nurse and started school well into her thirties. She would always laugh and tell me that she felt like everyone’s mother! lol
Now she is working at a lab researching a cure for Leukemia.
So, no matter what excuses you find for not taking that chance, there are a million reasons why you should. 

Dreams can be tucked away for however long and still be there waiting for you to make them come true. They don’t have an expiration date! Don’t ever short-change yourself by saying that it’s to late. 

It isn’t! 

Follow them. Make them come true and find your passion. Your inner self with thank you for it! 

Stay safe! 
Darlene 



Saranac Lake Winter Carnival ~ by Author Jennifer Daniels


The Winter Carnival has been a long running tradition for Saranac Lake, NY.  Many people have come to witness this amazing 10 day spectacle for years.

The opening ceremony begins with the coronation of the King and Queen. This is followed by the lighting of the castle and an amazing firework display that is spectacular. Over the 10-days they have parades, different performances, and all different kinds of outdoor activities. There is something new to do every day. On the last night it ends with another amazing firework display.


All of the hard work that goes into this weekend is done by the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival Committee. The townspeople volunteer their time to build the castle from huge blocks of ice cut from the lake. This event a wonderful way for families to get outside and have some winter fun.



This year the Castle’s theme was “Masquerade” which is very fitting for the time we are currently in. The castle is opened to have your pictures taken in front of and of course you can walk through the different passages. Every year it is constructed differently.




But like all things this year, the carnival was vastly different. You could not approach the castle and you had to watch the fireworks from afar. This year’s event had minimal activities and the closing ceremony was cancelled.

My husband, son, and I donned our masks and went to the opening ceremony, and even though we could not get close to the castle, it was nice to be in the fresh air and watch the fireworks from afar. 

We had the perfect viewing spot. But, for my family, the drive itself was gorgeous. It had snowed all day long so the trees were dusted with the newly fallen flakes, everything sparkled. It was
a fun family outing.

Celebrate the Day ~ by Grace Augustine

Yesterday I celebrated another orbit around the sun. It was a quiet day filled with many good wishes. Thanking all of you who sent them. My son asked what I wanted for my birthday and purchased a FitBit. He made lasagna and picked up a slice of authentic tiramisu from a local Italian restaurant. With a blanket and Bou on my lap, it was an afternoon of bliss as I watched a bit of television and took a nap. The perfect way to spend the day. A very happy girl :)

Today, we celebrate so many more things. Here are just a few:


The anniversary of George Washington's birthday. Former firstpresident, George Washington, was born on February 22, 1732, making him 289 years old today. One of his more famous quotes is "It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one."


National Margarita Day:
The conception of this day has been long hidden in history. No one truly knows its origin. A common story regarding this is that it was invented in 1938 by restaurant owner Carlos Herrera. Another thought is that Don Carlos Orozco, a bartender at a Mexican establishment, whipped up a drink with tequila, orange liqueur and lime juice, and served it to a German Ambassador's daughter, whose name happened to be Margarita. The drink evolved over time and now is made with tequila, triple sec, and lime juice.

Be Humble Day: Today is all about not bragging about yourself and your accomplishments, but to do so about others--your kids, friends, co-workers.

International World Thinking Day: This day was created in 1926at the 4th annual Girl Guide/Girl Scout International Conference. It is still celebrated around the world by Girl Scouts and other girl groups. Originally, it was a time to show thanksgiving and appreciation to other Girl Scouts and Girl Guides. It has evolved into a day for girls everywhere to learn about important education and training in health issues that affect girls and women.

Until next time, celebrate every hour of every day in your life because each moment is special.

photos courtesy of deposit photos.

 


February Crafting ~ by Lexa Fisher



I never imagined that taking an all-day writing workshop would re-kindle my creative energy, but it certainly did. Not only did I come away with fresh ideas for my current novella, but also with renewed energy and ideas for my creative outlet of making cards this month.

I'd purchased a Valentine card kit to inspire me with new ideas and craft materials. The neon pink glitter paste you see in the hearts above is part of the kit, and is almost gone now--I love the bright color!

In addition to using the materials in the kit, I learned several new card folding techniques. Here is a corner fold card.



 


Another folding technique I learned is the diagonal fold.


 

 

Here are two more card styles I made this month: the mini card-on-a-card, and a top fold.

 

My favorite new technique is the Z-fold, which is easy to make but looks quite intricate. It also uses lots of decorative papers, which I love and you can see I've used in all of these examples.


Making cards wasn't all I did for Valentine's Day. Since we're not going out shopping, I needed to make my sweetie something chocolatey and homemade. I've had these soap and candy molds for decades, and they came in handy again. These are hand-poured crispy rice cereal and sunflower seed butter filled chocolates--that he refrained from eating in one day...25 hours counts as more than a day, right? 😄

 


 I hope your Valentine's Day was sweet!









Hearts in Nature ~ by Jacquolyn McMurray


Rachel Walker on Unsplash
Ahhh, February. That time of year when we see heart shapes everywhere we look, especially in the media. 





Heart shapes. Symbols of love and reminders of those we love. 

Have you ever noticed how many heart shapes Mother Nature has given us? They are there for your enjoyment, if you just look. 

Photo by Jacquolyn McMurray

Cherimoya, one of my favorite sub-tropical fruits, grows on our farm. Its skin is rather leathery, but the fruit inside is creamy. Some folks call it the custard apple.




Photo by Jacquolyn McMurray

Several plants have leaves that form a heart shape. This four-leaf clover has hearts within hearts if you look carefully.


Photo by Jacquolyn McMurray



Don't you love the pattern in this leaf?





Photo by Jacquolyn McMurray



On our treks to the beach, I'm always on the look out for heart-shaped coral. Beachcombing takes on a different meaning when your focus is finding symbols of love. This piece of coral is sitting on a heart-shaped chunk of lava rock. 


Photo by Jacquolyn McMurray
Every time I discover another heart shape in nature, I think of it as being surrounding by love. On your next walk, see how many symbols of love you can find in nature. 






Please click HERE to view other posts by Jacquolyn.




Happy Month of Love ~ By Bou

 


Hello everyone! **waving my paw to all of you** I hope you are well and that you are behaving.

It's been a fairly boring winter for me. The rabbits are hibernating, the birds have flown to warmer weather, and the squirrels are hiding. We've had so much snow that no one would find me for weeks if I were an outdoor kitteh! I'm so glad to be a house feline. It is definitely BRRRRRY outside!




There is so much snow that it is as high as my boy's car! My boy and a neighbor shoveled out parking spaces so the cars could come and go. They are such good boys!





With all of my animal friends hiding, there isn't much for me to do during the day. So, I sleep under mom's bed, or come out for treats or to be brushed. I have lots of toys, and I like to line them up from the living room down the hall, especially at night. It's like they are my watchful eye brigade, helping me make sure my people are safe.

My favorite thing to do for playtime is play fetch with paper wads. I also have a yarn ball with a string on it that is my favorite of all. My boy plays with me after Mom goes to bed. Sometimes Mom plays with me in the afternoons after I wake up. They are so good.  I love to play tag with my boy, too. When he's not looking I will run up behind him and boop him on the leg. **paw to mouth snicker**


Well, not much more to report from the frozen tundra in Iowa. Please send good thoughts for my kitteh friend, Cole, who is going through chemo and radiation for kitteh cancer. Remember Valentine's Day on February 14th. Give your kitteh lots of extra scritchies that day. I love to hear from my readers. Please continue being the pawsome people you are.  

Kitteh Kisses,

Bou


Winter's Hope ~ by Author Marj Ivancic

Deposit photos
The ground is frozen. The soil is pulled into stalagmite-like formations that crunch beneath my boots as I make a tour of the garden. It’s late January. The perennials are in hiding under a blanket of frost-crusted leaves, waiting for warmer weather.



But I’m not looking for those fair-weather beauties.

I’m here for the herald of hope—the Lenten Rose.

With its evergreen foliage and blossoms that appear while the days
Deposit photos
are still short and dark, this plant is a reminder that not all has succumbed to winter’s death. Not all slumber in wait of spring.

One legends says that an angel brought forth the plant from the ground where the tear of a young girl who had no gift to offer at the Christ Child’s manger fell.

And yet for all the promise its presence in the garden brings, the Lenten Rose is quite deadly.

Its official name, Helleborus, is a mashup of the Greek words meaning “to injure” and “food.” Consuming any part of it—roots, leaves, stems—can cause vomiting, swelling of tongue and throat, and even cardiac arrest. And not just for humans! Cats, dogs, and even horses can fall victim to its poison. Luckily, clever and caring Mother Nature imbued this plant with a terrible taste, which usually serves as a preventative against accidental consumption in deadly amounts.

But its toxicity didn’t deter the ancient Greens from using it to “cure madness” and to clear out intestinal parasites. Witches were (are?) said to use it to curse fields and in potions to give them flight. And walking through its powder (either in the air or on the ground) has been said to render one invisible.

Deposit photos
I’m not sure I would risk death for a change to fly or be invisible, but I do enjoy seeing the Hellebore blossoms on a cold, grey day. I like the plant’s tenacity, its feistiness. Its refusal to wait for a “good day” to bloom and be happy. We, as human, too often wait. We look forward or backward for the good times, instead of seizing this minute, this second as our moment of joy.



North Country Wild ~by Jennifer Daniels



Now that all the holidays are over and we are in the start of a new year, I hope this finds you all healthy, safe, and well. 



#North Country Wild is a saying my son came up with for his YouTube and TikTok account. As many of you know I live in Upstate, NY and I am proud of where I come from and I’m immensely proud of my son. I’m going to share with you some of the pictures he has taken this January. 




Two days ago, my husband, son and I were enjoying the afternoon when my son looked out our window and there was a fox in the yard. It happily stood at the edge of the property so my son went out onto the porch to take pictures. When he opened the window, the little fellow decided to chirp at him. It was the cutest thing. It is not unusual for us to have animals roaming around the yard or going up and down the road. Just one of the perks of country life.



He also took several pictures out in the woods after the snow had fallen. And down by the beaver damn. I hope you enjoy our North Country Wild.





To view more of my blog posts, I invite you to visit my member page by clicking HERE

Rejuvnate ~ by Darlene Kuncytes

Well…it’s that time of year again. That span of time after all the holiday madness when we live our lives just waiting for the next celebration.

The next day off of work.

Spring.

This is the time of year when it’s the hardest to keep our spirits up. The winter drags on as we patiently wait for those first signs of things renewing. Those first brave buds popping up to promise us those greens and colors and warmth that we love so much.

Being from the Midwest, this has always been the worst time of year for me. We have nothing really to look forward to until Memorial Day in May.

And believe me, that seems so far off.

I’m not sure how people feel about this window of time in the sunshine states. Does it bother them, like it does us? Do they feel those post-holiday blues?


I mean, even my dogs seem down! Lolol
Could it be a lack of vitamin D? Cabin fever? Who knows?
That being said, now is when we need to remember that this is the time to rejuvenate! 

To remind ourselves that this will not last forever. 

To do our very best to find every bit of beauty this time of year has to offer!

I know it’s hard. We stress, we celebrate, we shop, we wrap, we get that high from all that holiday rush… (not to mention all that sugar we put into our bodies! Lolol) 

And then…nothing?

This year, take a walk in the park. Or put a bird feeder out in the yard and watch all the wonderful winter birds that come! Change a room around. Craft. Write. Paint. Do yoga. 

Or simply treat yourself to a bouquet of flowers the next time you go to the store.

Just do your best to just remember to enjoy the beauty around us. Even at this time of year. Because it’s there. We just tend to forget to look for it once the holiday craziness has poured out of us.
And this year is even trickier for us. We don’t have the freedom we normally do. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t still enjoy ourselves. 

Call a friend. A family member… just to say hi!

This lull will pass. It always does. And we will once again feel the sun on our faces! 

Take this time to take care of you. Mentally. Physically. Emotionally.
This year more than ever. 

Look forward to what is to come. Because it will come. 


You are your biggest asset. Never forget that.
So, remember to treat yourself kindly.
Stay safe and simply find your fun!
Darlene

To read more of Darlene's posts, click HERE



Pictures courtesy of Google and Facebook


Pick a holiday and celebrate ~ by Grace Augustine

 It seems like at any given moment we can choose to celebrate anything on any day. However, there are specific days for all these "just about anythings."  Today, here is your list to choose from:

ANSWER YOUR CAT'S QUESTION/S DAY:  Even though our precious kittehs try their hardest to communicate with us, sometimes we don't pick up on their lingo. We need to learn Cat-ese. The inflection of their meows and their body language send different signs to owners. Anything from feed-me-stupid-human-my-bowl-is-only-half-full, to why-are-you-sad-I-will-make-it-all-better, to staring at you in the bathroom. On a regular basis, make sure you look into your cat's eyes and very slowly blink at them. This is a sign of affection. The ultimate sign of affection is if they sigh when they are on your lap. It means they totally trust you and love you at all costs.

CELEBRATION OF LIFE DAY: This day was originally created to celebrate children and grandchildren. Today the day has grown into a celebration of all people. It's also a great time for us to look at our own lives and to celebrate our victories and accomplishments as well as form a plan for where we want the future to take us.


COME IN FROM THE COLD DAY:  Self-explanatory.

Deposit photos


DANCE OF THE SEVEN VEILS DAY: Salome's dance, performed for Herod Antipas and his guests. Oscar Wilde's production of Salome showed the dancer seductively performing a striptease-like act removing her seven veils.  You can read more of this celebration HERE





NATIONAL HOT SAUCE DAY: Whether it be green, red, or any color between, hot sauce has been spicing up food palates since 1807 when one form was bottled in Massachusetts. Habanero, cayenne, jalepeno, chipolte, Scotch bonnet, and so many more go into the making of this palate flaming product.

Deposit photos

NATIONAL POLKA DOT DAY: Dig out those dresses and scarves with the beloved polka dots. Today is the day to wear them proudly! We also celebrate Minnie Mouse, who, let's face it, is the Queen of Polka Dots. At the beginning of the 19th century, polka dots were noticeable in paintings by Monet (Luncheon on the Grass) and Bazille (Family Reunion). 

In the 1920's and 1930's the Polka Dot trend became quite a fashion statement. Christian Dior began putting out garments with polka dots after World War II.

That's it for this installment of celebrate. I hope you will join me next month for more in this series. If you'd like to read more of my posts, please click HERE to be directed to my member's page.

Motorcycle Roads

    

        When I turned 50 I decided I deserved a midlife crisis, so I bought my own Harley Heritage Springer and learned some beautiful backroads.


 This Harley impulse was fueled by my first ride that had launched my love affair with motorcycles. Sixteen years old, I was invited to Florence, Oregon, to celebrate my friend’s birthday with her family. We went to a high school dance and had a great time; then her cousin and his friend invited us to ride on their dirt bikes. At 11 p.m. we were flying through Oregon woods and back roads, having a heart pounding, terrific time. 

By 2:00, the boys decided we needed to go see the quicksand pits.  Having spent my youth watching Saturday afternoon Tarzan movies, I was already convinced that quicksand was a significant threat in adult life,


 but I swallowed my terror and rode along. Once there, the boys started running across a large pool of quicksand, causing the earth to roll in giant concentric waves from the impact of their footsteps. They could only stop in several spots where grass tuffets grew and the ground was firmer, so it became a game of base running on a dare. First and last time I have ever experienced quicksand. Got back to the motel after 4 a.m. and sunrise. 50 years later, I still remember the scolding…and we didn’t even tell her parents about the quicksand.

***One day I was climbing a long road through a state forest. The sky was wide open and blue, not even a hint of clouds; the road was lined with trees that were cut back from the road, so visibility was clear and there was no sign of people or life of any kind. With no warning, out of the proverbial empty blue sky, SPLAT. Somebody dumped a gallon of water on me. Not raindrops, a big slap of water that hit once and disappeared; no water before or after me on the road, just an abrupt glop of water in the face.

         It happened so fast, I didn't have time to react; I didn't even swerve or brake.  But what the hell? I rode on, slightly in shock, wiping my face. What hit me? From where? Less than a  quarter mile down the road, I had the answer.


From 200 feet up came a helicopter over the trees hauling a big canvas bucket full of water that had evidently slopped over.  The firefighting helicopter was scooping up lake water and dumping it on a forest fire...after baptizing me first.

***It was sunset and the sun had slid behind the mountains, leaving the western sky glowing. The air was soft and lovely, the perfect temperature for riding. Luckily for me, I had just crested a hill and was on a long straightaway doing 40. The darkness was settling in, when suddenly a vast cloud of white moths engulfed me, their albino white wings reflecting my headlights and blocking my view of everything else. I throttled back, but for almost a block (it felt like a mile)  the white fluttering wings engulfed me utterly, reflecting the headlights and blinding me completely.

        The hatch stretched on and on until I was terrified that I was running out of straight road; but I knew I couldn’t stop, someone might rear end me in the endless cloud. Oh God, when was it going to stop, I couldn’t see! Then came an experience that is seared into my memory. It happened in a split second, but I can see his face to this day. Cutting right through the moths and screaming up to within an inch of my helmet came… a bat. 

    His sonar kept him from smashing into my face.

    Luckily he was there and gone so fast, I could not react--which would surely have left me spread across the asphalt.

    I doubt he remembers me, but I can see his black, shiny eyes even now. No doubt he thought I was pilfering his snacks.




For more posts by this author click:  Ruth Ross Saucier Author Page

Slow Down ~ by Author Marj Ivancic

Slow down. Pay attention. I can’t tell you how many times I heard those two phrases in my life. They were usually preceded by some knucklehe...